Monday, August 15, 2011

This Week's Column: Calling all history detectives

For the past several weeks, I've been interested in "collecting" historical remnants, but I need your help.
If you don't know what a "historical remnant" is, don't worry. I made up the term.
For me, a historical remnant is a stationary object which one might walk right by and never realize it's historic. I have a few on my list, but I hope readers of this column will know about more.
I'm not talking about old buildings or anything obvious; a "historical remnant' is just a scrap left over from a different time.
Here are some examples:
A few weeks ago a kind reader came by the print shop and we talked about the curb along Main Street 
Limestone curb, 
Kerrville, 2011
in front of St. Peter's Episcopal Church. The curb there is not concrete -- it's cut limestone. That curb dates back to the time when Main Street was not paved, when there were no automobiles in Kerrville. In fact, I have an 1890s photo of St. Peter's where you can clearly see these old curbstones.
I'd walked past them for years -- that was my route from junior high school to the print shop -- and never noticed them. I recently went to look at them and they are, in fact, cut limestone blocks.
Now that's a "historical remnant."  (There might be more cut limestone curbs in the 600 block of Jefferson Street across from NAPA Auto Parts.)
Fence post.
On Clay Street, just opposite the entrance to the old Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital, is another. Near the entrance to Voelkel Engineering (and on their property) is one remaining iron fence post from the time when that part of Clay Street had houses. In fact, one of the old houses there, for a time, was a funeral home. Looking at the old fence post you can tell the fence was quite fancy. Now the fence, the house, and the yard it once surrounded are all gone.
Or look down by the river. If you go to the new pavilion at the end of Earl Garrett Street, and look downstream, you'll see a little footbridge crossing the river. On the town side of the river, near the footbridge, you'll see a series of square holes in the riverbed, and, if you follow them toward the One Schreiner Center, you'll find an old timber still standing tall, embedded in the riverbed. That old timber is all that remains of the wooden mill dam which served the mill built by Christian Dietert in the downtown area more than a century ago.
Spring Street
Even a street sign can be a remnant: across from the front entrance to Notre Dame Catholic Church, on Water Street, you'll find a street sign that says "Spring Street."  It really doesn't look like there's a street there at all; just a short driveway leading to the bluff above the river. Actually, though, Spring Street was once an important part of Kerrville. One of our community's earliest post offices was there, and the street got its name from the springs on the bluff below, which provided water for the early settlers of our community.
Visible railroad tracks
There are even a few railroad tracks still visible around town, most notably near the City Yard, on McFarland Street between Paschal and Hays streets. The railroad, which arrived here in the 1880s, saw its last train leave Kerrville in the 1970s.
If you have another "historical remnant" you'd like to share with me, please drop me a card here at the newspaper, 429 Jefferson Street, or you can email me at
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times August 13, 2011.


  1. I have added the term "historical remnant" to my vocabulary. I like the words very much.

    I also enjoyed this article very much. If ever I make it back to Kerrville, I am going to search for those historical treasures.

    Joe, do you have a photo of the post from the old mill dam? If so, I would be so grateful if you posted it on your blog.

    Although there is not much risk of a flood anytime soon, I fear that one will take place before I get back to Kerrville. The flood might wash away the post and then I would not get the chance to see something that is part of my history.


  2. Somewhere on the South West corner of the Baker Street Bridge over the Guadalupe is an old bronze tablet hidden by the weeds. It was part of the original steel bridge construction. Can you guess for whom the bridge was named?

  3. Charles Schreiner?


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